As I was writing my previous piece about militant recycling, the news item about a ‘drone over Gatwick Airport’ was unfolding.
I was going to include this is that piece because of a suggestion in the media about the possibility of an environmental activist being behind it, but I went away from that post and forgot when I came back to it and posted it without this extra content. This is fortunate though because other details have since come to my attention, as you can see from the length of the ramblings here.
In the first breath the articles I was reading were ruling out terrorism, but in the second, at least in one report, it wasn’t being ruled out that an environmental activist, group or individual I suppose, was behind it since the act of closing down such a large and busy airport such as Gatwick may not only have a noticable impact on air quality/pollution in its area (9/11 is a large-scale example of this), but further to this such an act can ideally illustrate to people who choose to fly in aircraft that there are people that object to such an act based on the pollution/harm to the environment it causes.
About a year after the [9/11] attacks … a geographer at the University of Wisconsin, and another colleague argued in a paper that thin clouds created by contrails reduce the range of temperatures. By contributing to cloud cover during the day, they reflect solar energy that would otherwise have reached the earth’s surface. At night, they trap warmth that would otherwise have escaped.
The effect during the three days that flights were grounded was strongest in populated regions where air traffic was normally densest. The increase in range came to about two degrees Celsius. – globalnews.ca/…911…climate-change-experiment
If this was the reason behind the drone troubles at Gatwick then it was, it seemed to me, a militant approach; someone or a group, actively doing this to have an effect… actively doing something:
This idea was somewhat impressive to me since it sounded like something out of Hollywood because the act of flying a drone within the perimeter of such an airport isn’t as straightforward as it sounds. There is a thing called Geofencing which actually prevents a drone from flying within its boundary, and therefore the explanation in the news at the time was that a drones firmware would have to be modified to remove that technicality.
Geofencing is a virtual barrier created using a combination of the GPS (Global Positioning System) network and LRFID (Local Radio Frequency Identifier) connections such as Wi-Fi or Bluetooth beacons. This boundary is dictated by a combination of hardware and software which dictates the parameters of the geofence i.e. a drone app and an unmanned aircraft. – www.heliguy.com/…geofencing
The further information that I have gleaned though since the flights were grounded (they’re now allowed to fly again), is that, actually, there seems to be little evidence that there even was a drone. It seemed odd to me that the whole scenario dragged on for as many hours that it did; not knowing much about drones I pondered the battery life of such things and the point made about the drone going away and then coming back made me wonder why the authorities didn’t watch where it went and thus catch those responsible. It all seemed quite stupid and inconceivable.
There seems to be only one actual picture/few seconds of footage of “the drone” and this has been copied and pasted throughout various regurgitations of the story:
It’s just a blob in the sky; you couldn’t say this is a drone, therefore it’s a UFO. The conspiracy theorist inside me will entertain the thought that it was actually aliens from another world and the powers that be tried to cover it up with the nonsense about it being a drone, that at least, would be more Hollywood. More realistically the blob in the sky could just be one of the search helicopters that were apparently called into the area – again something odd to occur since how could it be safe to fly a helicopter into an area that has been reported to have a drone flying in it? And who knows when the recording was made? Maybe it was all just fake news in an attempt to have new controls put in place on the use of drones; there sure was plenty of coverage of innocent people having their festive holidays ruined, and no empathic person wants to see that – yes, we need to ban the use of drones now, forget the climate change stuff, that can wait.
In the beginning it seemed to be “a drone” that was reported but now I increasingly read “drones”, as in more than one.
As the story has unfolded further and the backlog of over 700 flights are being shifted the latest news is that two individuals had been held in custody and questioned by police; “a 47-year-old man and 54-year-old woman”. Who is to know if these people were found to be flying a drone or not, or perhaps there is a another explanation: There was no drone and that the people questioned (the term “arrested” has been avoided, again, another curiosity), reported a drone in the vicinity of the airport, and thus caused all of those flights to be grounded. Those people have now been released. Maybe the police just had to at be seen to be doing something. Maybe they were residents of the area who are known to be the owners of a drone and they were top of the list of suspects.
Originally we had this from the BBC:
Sussex Police was locked in a game of cat and mouse with the drone operator … Officers have so far failed to locate the “industrial specification” drones or their pilot … Steve Barry, Sussex assistant chief constable, … previously told BBC Breakfast there were a “number of lines of inquiry” into the “very malicious and criminal behaviour”, including the possibility it could have been the work of an environmental activist.- www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-sussex-46643173
But now we have this from the EveningStandard:
Gatwick drone latest: Police say it is ‘a possibility there was never a drone’ … a Detective Chief Superintendent Jason Tingley told the BBC: “Of course, that’s a possibility. We are working with human beings saying they have seen something. – www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/gatwick-drone-latest-police-say-it-is-a-possibility-there-was-never-a-drone-a4024626.html
[EDIT 02/01/19]: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-sussex-46709353